How to use Microsoft Word to write Screenplays

Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world. It is used to write letters and books. But can you use it to write screenplays? The answer is yes, if you have the right tools. Here are a few tips on how to use Microsoft Word to write screenplays. 

 

See If It Is Already Available to You 

Microsoft Word has a number of built-in templates. In Microsoft Word 2010, 2013 and 2016, there is a premade screenplay template for Microsoft Word. How do you get to this screenplay template? Open a new document. Search templates using the word “screenplay”. Search for it in the database or search for it with Microsoft Office Online. Select the template, open it, name it and save it locally.

 This approach has the benefit of being quick and easy. The downside is that the template won’t necessarily follow industry guidelines regarding formatting, and it won’t have professional features like scene tags unless you add them manually.

 

If you have already written a screenplay, you could save it and use it as a template for future screenplays. However, any formatting errors like incorrect margins carry over to your latest projects. This is also true if you save the screenplay you wrote as a template. If you have a blank screenplay that is properly formatted, you could save it as a template by selecting “Save as a Type”, “Word template”. If it contains macros, you’d go one step farther and choose to save it as a Word Macro-Enable Template. Click the save icon, and you’ve just created your own screenplay template. And you can use it as many times as you’d like for free. 

Download the Right Templates 

There is an official Microsoft template for screenplays available for download on the Microsoft Office homepage. This template allows you to write a script per industry standards. For example, the template includes formatting, but you may want to create macros for entering character names or identifying sets and locations. Unfortunately, it is limited. That’s why screenplay writing software programs exist. And it is why you can save the screen play written in MS Word and often import it into the screenwriter application. 

Use Dedicated Software

You can get dedicated screen writing software just as you can get book writing software. This software generally guides you through the screenwriting process while adhering to the strict formatting rules. Choose the right one, or else you’ll have to pay someone to edit the screenplay and format it to meet industry guidelines. Frankly, that’s a waste of time. These specialized screenwriting applications will handle little details new writers are not familiar with like screen numbering, marking the continuation of screens, and tagging props and characters. These tags make it easier to breakdown a script and schedule the play. 

 The upside of using dedicated software is that you can choose software guaranteed to produce professional looking results. The only downside is that you’re going to have to pay for the privilege of using it.

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